Friday, February 25, 2005

Concerts and Stuff

We lived between the war and before Reagan. For a few years, we partied and we partied well. I'm not sure I want my kids to do what I did but I don't want them to grow up afraid to go out and live. It goes by so fast and as far as there is proof to tell, it goes by only once. What's the point of having all this stuff if getting it makes us spectators when we should be players. Old though I am, when I was young, I was a player. As my son says, "Dad isn't evil; he's just twisted." Fair enough. It was fun.

We were a half generation out of phase between the Beatles and KISS. Whatever else we didn't have or do, we had the best music since the Jazz Era. I went to the Georgia Jam in '74 to see the Allman Bros, Lynard Skynard, Marshall Tucker Band, etc. It was all 'shrooms, smoke, 'cid and wine at that concert and it rained in the middle of the day. The crowd got under their blankets and sat on the ground holding them up so it was solid ceiling a few feet above the floor and blue smoke pealing out from between. Eventually it all turned to mud so the kids in the middle went to the buff and began to toss each other up on the blanket until they dropped one naked chick and she broke something. Marshall Tucker stayed on stage in the rain and played to us so we'd stay calm. To heck with calm; we were just trying to stay conscious long enough to see the Bros.

Hours later, the Bros hit the stage way late. Betts furious with Greg who was so drunk he fell off his piano stool. I walked behind the mixing board platform, threw up the shrooms, then pushed my way to the stage to boogie to the Statesboro Blues with the best southern rock band that ever picked up a Coricidin bottle to make a slide. It was fabulous.

I caught Clapton twice; once in Birmingham at the old stadium. He was junked out and shot the crowd a bird for squealing for Layla after every song. My bass player and I had hitched to the concert, then found some musician friends who had a motel room. After the show, we went there to do the Seventies party things, then caught a ride back to the 'ville in the back of a pickup. There were about eight or nine of us in the back riding high on I-65. There was a redhead eager to do the nasty, and did while everyone pretended to be asleep. It was without shame, without fear, and long before AIDS. I do feel badly for the mammals now who need a health card to have a fling. Spontaneity is a rare pleasure.

I saw Clapton again later at the VBCC while they were filming Ravagers in town. I was dating a State Representative at the time and she and I walked in with Richard Harris (yeah, Dumbledore and King Arthur). and his wife (Turkel). I was surprised how short Harris was. I wouldn't let Martha Jo approach them though. They were there to see Clapton and enjoy the night and I don't approach public people in public. It's a drag for them. Clapton was cleaned up and did a great show that night.

The best concert I ever went to was the Grateful Dead in Tuscaloosa. This was just after they released the Europa album and they were at the height of their jams. They start loose but play for hours and by the time they get into the second hour, it's delirium. There is no music as good as the Live Dead. I miss Jerry. I hope those guys still kick main butt.

I caught Ronstadt at her peak. Very good. The West Coast had taken the best of Nashville and Bakersfield and turned it into the smoothest pop of the decade. I was playing at the Huntsville Hilton lounge with the band, Bitter Creek, in 1975 which was across the street from the civic center, and everyone stayed there. I partied with most of the bands when this was a venue on the A list. Great memories. Musicians can be monster jerks to civilians but among themselves, they are tribal. I was 21 and the superstars treated me like a little brother. I loved it. The Eagles, Average White Band, even Chet Atkins. All fabulous guys. Big brothers with good advice for the long haired skinny kid with the nylon string doing solos while the crowd came back from the concert.

We made love in the park watching the police cars come and go from the main station. We stayed up all night watching TBS. We hiked to the empty water tower on Green Mountain and chanted inside as the echos swelled inside us like hormones. We climbed to the top and tied out sleeping bags to the post, laid there and watched the sun come up across the peaks in the distance lighting the clouds in the valley that crawled toward us like a bright white fluffy blanket.

We had the sounds, the soul and the urge. Freedom. It breathes and it sings and it plays loud guitar. And it satisfies.

So why not do it for a living? As a party, there is none better; but as a lifestyle, it stinks. The soft sweet music I loved was killed by disco and cocaine infesting the good people, and that was a step too far for me. I partied but I knew poison on sight so when all the cooool people started that trek, I got off the bus. The party days before the suits grabbed the controls once and for all were good, but after that, it was just a job and who gives up their heart to that. Music IS my heart and that I keep for me. "Songs to aging children come; I am one." - Joni Mitchell

Now the programmers have come to free the musicians from the suits. That's a very good thing. It's past my time but I feel good for the kids. They can explore art in ways we couldn't even dream of. They can podCast, make movies, animate worlds, put their music in them, and do it for the whole world with the whole world without ever leaving their backporch. Sure, they should get out and do gigs; that is the best part, but they should also find the guy or girl in Egypt or Turkey or downtown Buffalo that digs their grooves and send them to them.

For Free. For Fun. For Fate. For Love. For Good Times. For the Blue Flame.

I envy you that, and at the same time, I don't. I've had fun and every season that comes as this world spins in a cold night has its own unique concerts and gigs and stuff. Be a player.

Gitcha some.

I have all the toys I want; so now I record what I like, when I like, and only play if there is an audience that really wants it. There is no pressure and I won't be found dead old and alone in a motel room, the death even the superstars fear. I can be in a local theatre production and act again, which is what I trained for. Music was how I paid for college, but then it became the real act. I've had fun. I recommend it to anyone.

At the end of the day, you only have to achieve three things to have an excellent life:

1) status among your peers that matches your level of ambition,

2) a family that loves you,

3) enough stuff.

Most people screw their lives up trying for more status than they really want so they can get more stuff for a family that would rather they be home more. I have enough stuff. It's all extra after that.

You probably do too. Remember that next time you see your kids because it's their time now and the best thing you can tell them is you are proud of them, you love them, and that when they get enough stuff, relax and have fun.

It's not who dies with the most toys; it's who has the most fun with their toys while they are alive. Party on, Babies.


Don Box said...

My RSS reader reports you wrote this Friday afternoon at 3'ish.

I'm surprised your company allows you to spend so much work time on your personal blog. Microsoft would not.

len said...


Buy Intergraph, Don. Then you can run it like Microsoft.

len said...

That depends on my ambitions, not the ambitions of my peers.

My peers lately have been munchkins, ossians, a guard and a wicked green faced babe. We rocked.

It's all the status I need.

Money said...

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You are very determined. At least that is the impression I got after reading your blog. So we both have something similar in character. Hope I also have a similar blog too:))

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